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Non-ductile column buildings review update

Hon Maurice Williamson
Minister for Building and Construction

16 August 2013

Non-ductile column buildings review update

Building and Construction Minister Maurice Williamson today announced 50 buildings have been cleared and another 24 excluded in the review into buildings with non-ductile columns.

The review began in 2012 to establish if there were any buildings with similar design flaws to the Canterbury Television Building, which collapsed in the February 22nd 2011 earthquake, killing 115 people.

338 buildings have been identified in the review, which is looking at structures of three storeys or more built between 1982 and 1995 that have non-ductile columns. Some buildings have been included because there wasn’t enough information to prove if they had non-ductile columns or not. Just because a building has non-ductile columns does not mean it is unsafe.

“Since March, the number of buildings to be reviewed has fallen by 24 after the initial information provided was further scrutinised and it was found those structures did not meet the review criteria, as they weren’t consented in the timeframe when non-ductile columns were allowed, or they were under three storeys.

“While the review has not progressed as fast as I would have liked due to a lack of engineers to complete structural assessments, information from Councils, which are dealing directly with building owners on the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s behalf, is now flowing in;

• In Auckland, 47 of 193 buildings have been assessed by engineers and cleared.
• In Wellington, three of 60 buildings have been cleared. Wellington City Council is currently reviewing another 16 completed assessments.
• In Christchurch, three of 13 buildings identified have been demolished because of earthquake damage. Eight buildings are vacant, with the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority set to acquire the land. Problems were identified with one building and the owner has obtained a building consent for a structural upgrade.

“All Councils that have buildings in the review have been asked to provide MBIE an update on where assessments are at by August 23rd. I expect to be able to issue a further update in September.

“Disappointingly two building owners have refused to engage with the review. I find this appalling as the review is being done for reasons of public safety. I’m advised one final letter will be sent to these owners from their council asking them to get an engineering assessment.

“What has become clear during the review is the Building Act 2004 does not provide councils or the Ministry with adequate powers to address risks identified in existing buildings as a result of new knowledge. Building owners can’t be compelled by law to get an engineering assessment and participation is voluntary. I find this completely unacceptable and have instructed my officials to investigate options to increase accountability.

“It’s important to highlight that the CTV building failed catastrophically due to many more issues than just non-ductile columns, including a flawed design.

“Given the review is still on-going, it would be inappropriate for details of the buildings involved, especially those that have been cleared, to be released,” Mr Williamson says.

ENDS

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